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Experiencing San Gimignano: 5 steps not to miss anything

Beyond its most iconic aspects, San Gimignano is a succession of multi-faceted attractions, experiences and emotions, all waiting to be discovered.

The name San Gimignano conjures up images of ancient towers, centuries-old streets and monuments that bear witness to an era that existed long ago. The medieval charm that cloaks every corner of the town actually coexists with a multifaceted character that extends and surpasses its most iconic traits: to those who want to get to know its spirit, San Gimignano happily displays all its facets, to be discovered in five steps.

  • 1.
    UNESCO Heritage
  • 2.
    Beyond the walls, in nature
  • 3.
    Not only Middle Ages
  • 4.
    Ancient flavours
  • 5.
    Four seasons

UNESCO Heritage

San Gimignano city centre
San Gimignano city centre - Credit: Ambito Turistico Valdelsa Valdicecina

An unmistakable skyline and all the typical Tuscan villages set in history: San Gimignano is a World Heritage Site, declared of global interest.
The entire city centre launches us into the past, for a walk that smells of the Middle Ages. As you wander through the alleys and squares, you can discover hidden corners and unforgettable views, from which you can almost always see the 13th-century towers. These towers are the city's distinctive feature: of the 72 structures built by noble families as a sign of power, only 14 have survived the attacks of time and men. Climbing the Torre Grossa (the highest) and visiting the San Gimignano 1300 museum, you can imagine how the town looked at the time of Dante Alighieri.


Beyond the walls, in nature

View of the countryside surrounding San Gimignano
View of the countryside surrounding San Gimignano - Credit: Tina Fasulo, Ambito Turistico Valdelsa Valdicecina

San Gimignano is a jewel of medieval architecture set in lush countryside, where expanses of vineyards alternate with gentle hills and verdant woods.

The nature surrounding the city is criss-crossed by white roads and ancient highways, such as the Via Francigena, and offers a range of experiences for travellers who live slowly: it is in this green sea that you can take long walks and excursions by bike or on horseback, in search of breath-taking views, hamlets to explore and ruins to discover, such as those hidden among the vegetation of the Castelvecchio Nature Reserve.


Not only Middle Ages

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"Italy at Auction”, Luciano Fabro - Credit: Ambito Turistico Valdelsa Valdicecina

The Piazza della Cisterna, the splendid Duomo and the Civic Museums are just some of the attractions that tell of San Gimignano in the Middle Ages, just as the Hinthial statue bears witness to the Etruscan era; however, along with those, there are others that reveal an aspiration to be contemporary.

The Galleria di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Raffaele De Grada, as well as the Galleria Continua, host works of art and temporary exhibitions by international artists, while the numerous contemporary art projects that have taken place throughout the Val d'Elsa have also enriched San Gimignano with open-air sculptures and site-specific works, creating new connections and dialogues between today's artistic languages and the landscapes of tradition.

Strolling through the historic centre becomes an opportunity to look around for these pieces of art: Italia all'Asta by Luciano Fabro, Equilibrio Compresso by Eliseo Mattiacci and the Blue Girl by Kiki Smith are just some of the installations to look for in a "treasure hunt of the contemporary".


Ancient flavours

White grapes for Vernaccia
White grapes for Vernaccia - Credit: Ambito Turistico Valdelsa Valdicecina

The territory of San Gimignano is ancient, and for centuries it has given life to products of the land that are true local excellences. One example is Vernaccia, the famous DOCG white wine so good that it was mentioned in the Divine Comedy for having induced Pope Martin VI to fall into the sin of gluttony, and which still delights palates today with its golden hues and enthralling taste. Tastings at the Rocca - Vernaccia Wine Experience are ideal for learning more about this wine and its history, as is the annual Vernaccia Preview event.

In addition to the typical flavours that can be enjoyed in the restaurants and farms, San Gimignano has a spicy heart: Saffron DOP has always been grown around the town, and is one of its most distinctive gastronomic traits, to be savoured in all its preparations, including the unusual ice cream.


Four seasons

Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano
Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano - Credit: Ambito Turistico Valdelsa Valdicecina

The fragrances of spring, the sun of summer, the colours of autumn and the crisp winter air cloak San Gimignano in an ever-changing atmosphere. Each period of the year offers unique experiences, from the grape harvest to the events that enliven the city centre.

To fully understand the authentic spirit of San Gimignano, it is necessary to follow the rhythms of the seasons, discovering something new each time in a town that needs to be lived in and respected as if it were our own. A collective heritage to be experienced, respected and protected in all its aspects.

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